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The word Collagen comes from a Greek language, κόλλα (kólla), meaning “glue”, and suffix -γέν, -gen, denoting “producing”. It is the main structural protein that’s found throughout the body. Collagen plays an important role as building blocks for many of the body tissues, from bones and cartilage to skin, hair, eyes, and the digestive system.
Collagen is used for several medical and cosmetic purposes because of it is a protein that can be easily converted, broken down and absorbed into the body.
Medical – collagen can be used in reconstructive, cosmetic and oral surgery. It promotes new tissue growth in wounds and burns. Some patients may use collagen supplements to relieve joint symptoms
Cosmetic – The properties of collagen help maintain moisture making it a widely used ingredients in cosmetic applications. It is added to some skin creams and hair treatment. In aesthetic and cosmetic medicine, injected collagen fillers improve the density and quality of skin

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. At least 28 types of collagen have been identified and those categorized as Type I, II and III make up 80% to 90% of all collagens The collagen protein is composed of a triple helix, which has two identical chains (α1) and an additional chain that differs slightly in its chemical composition (α2).The helix structure renders its long and structural proteins making tough bundles of collagen called collagen fibers. They support most tissues and and gives cells structure from the outside. Collagen has great tensile strength, a crucial property to form the main component of fascia, cartilage, ligaments, tendon, bone and skin. Blood vessels are strengthened by this tensile property too. It plays a role in tissue development, along with elastin and soft keratin, it helps in skin strength and elasticity. Degradation of collagen as someone ages leads to wrinkles formation and loss of skin elasticity resulting in saggy skin. Collagen Types: Type I – This is the most abundant collagen of the human body. It is present in scar tissue, the end product when tissue heals by repair. It is made up of long, tightly packed fibers found in skin, ligaments, teeth, bones and tendons. Type II – This is found in hyaline cartilage. They are shorter fibers found in cartilages that form tough, flexible tissues in body parts such as the joints, ears and nose. Type III – This is produced quickly by young fibroblasts before the tougher Type I collagen is synthesized. It is found in skin, intestines and blood vessels.

The body production of collagen can be increased by 2 types of foods

  • Foods that are natural source of collagen
  • Foods that contain nutrients known to promote collagen production

Foods rich in collagen come from animals. The most common food sources of collagen are lean meat, bone broth, fish with the skin on, egg whites etc

Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, therefore it is found in various types of protein-rich meat, including beef and chicken. Collagen forms the main component of bone and/or connective tissue and eating meat sources with the said tissues is a good choice.

Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue with liquid over an extended period of 12-24 hours to extract the collagen. Some common animals used to make bone broth include chickens and cows.

Scientists have used fish skin as a source of collagen peptide and therefore eating fish with skin on is a good practice. Egg whites contains rich amino acids especially proline which is essential in collagen production.

Nutrients known to promote collagen production include Vitamin C, zinc and copper. Therefore eating foods rich in this nutrients encourage the body to produce its own collagen.

Vitamin C plays a major role in the production of pro-collagen, the body’s precursor to collagen. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are rich of this nutrient. Berries are another excellent source of Vitamin C and hefty dose can be found in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Berries are high in antioxidants which help to slow down the collagen breakdown. Other food sources of Vitamin C are tropical fruits (mango, kiwi, pineapple, guava), tomatoes and bell peppers.

Among food sources rich in zinc and copper are nuts and seeds ( eg pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, sesame seeds), leafy green vegetables (kale and spinach), and oysters.

An individual can lose collagen components in the body due to exposure to UV light, smoking, excessive intake of sugar, hormonal changes, medical conditions and ageing. Collagen production starts to decline in most people’s bodies by the time they are in their 20s and it decreases by 1-2% each year. However, the exact age of this process commences varies from individual to individual. The collagen attenuation picks up pace during and after menopause. Collagen loss is unavoidable as we age. When we are young, our bodies produce more collagen than we break down. However the production rate declines as we age and is unable to replenish the collagen we are losing due to the afore-mentioned risk factors. Prevention is better than cure and it’s a good idea to start taking collagen or receiving collagen-stimulating treatments in your 20s to mitigate future collagen loss. While your skin cells are still functioning optimally, collagen intake help to create the strongest skin foundation possible and maintain the health of other body parts which need collagen to function.
Collagen constitutes 70% of the dermis in the skin, the middle layer where the root of each individual hair is found. Together with elastin, collagen contributes to the elasticity and strength of your dermis. Unfortunately your body turns less efficient at producing collagen and replenishing cells in the dermis as you age. However, the good news is there are a few cosmetic procedures we could use to stimulate and regrow the collagen in the body. 1.Microneedling involves prickling the skin with tiny needles from which the small wounds cause your body to make more collagen and elastin. It is sometimes called collagen induction therapy. 2.Skin resurfacing lasers work by removing the top layers of skin to promote new cell growth and collagen production. The growth of collagen fibers results in smoother and firmer skin. 3.Chemical peels of medium and deep strength reach the deeper layers of the skin. As the damaged skin is peeled away, it stimulates the epidermal growth and collagen production giving the skin a smoother, revitalized and fresher appearance. 4.Dermal and facial fillers injected into specific areas of the skin to plump up wrinkled or folded areas. They also stretch the cells responsible for collagen secretion, triggering the production of more collagen and stimulating the chemicals that inhibit collagen breakdown.

The most well-known form of collagen is Type I collagen which helps with skin health.Type I collagen is the most plentiful kind of collagen in the body which promotes good skin, hair, teeth and nail growth. It forms large, eosinophilic fibers known as collagen fibers (*eosinophilic describes the appearance of cells and structures seen in histological sections that take up the staining dye eosin.

Type I collagen is made up of 2 pro-alpha1(I) chain and 1 pro-alpha 2(I) chain to form a triple helix structure. The triple helix structures arrange themselves into long, thin fibrils that cross-link to one another in the spaces around the cell. Type III collagen also works alongside Type I collagen . Type III collagen performs the same function as Type I collagen which promotes skin health and elasticity.

Studies show type III collagen content in the skin decreases more drastically than Type I does. This may suggest Type III collagen might be more contributory in skin aging and the visible symptoms with the aging eg wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sagging and fine lines.

A review of 19 studies that included 1125 participants (95% women) between the ages of 20 and 70 found that taking hydrolyzed collagen improved skin hydration, elasticity, wrinkles compared with placebo treatments.1 The doses of collagen shown to be effective for improving skin health in research studies vary, though most studies have used 2.5-15 grams per day for 8 weeks or longer.2 The best form of collagen for ingestion is collagen peptides. Hydrolyzed collagen is recommended for those who want to take a collagen supplement. Hydrolyzed collagen is easier for digestion and absorption because they have been broken down into small peptides.
Hyperpigmentation of the skin is a condition whereby the skin becomes darker when it produces excess melanin, a natural skin melanin. Contributory factors for hyperpigmentation include inflammation, hormonal changes, aging, sun exposure and genetic factors. When collagen fibre density in the upper dermis is decreased with age, skin colour becomes less bright because light scattering in the skin is decreased.Collagen also helps increase skin hydration and makes your skin firm and elastic. Some scientific studies show how collagen helps improve dark spots. The study shows the appearance of melasma in women, a common pigmentation disorder that causes brown or gray patches to appear on the skin, is improved by an oral supplement containing collagen peptides. The appearance of age spots has been shown to improve by an oral hydrolyzed collagen supplement along with antioxidants.
The biggest reason for the breakdown of collagen in the body is aging. There are some lifestyle and behavioral changes that can help slow down skin collagen depletion. Too much sun exposures generate free radicals in the skin which break. down collagen and the best way to avoid this damage is to apply enough sunscreen. Many chemicals in the cigarette smoking can damage the structure of collagen in the skin and cause the skin to sag and wrinkle. Getting enough Vitamin C is important as Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that help scavenge the free radicals in the body that can lead to breakdown of collagen.Getting enough sleep help keep your immune system strong and cell cycles turn over which is key to maintain the collagen in the skin. There are some cosmetic procedure you can do to improve the collagen in your face and they include microneedling, skin resurfacing lasers, chemical peels, dermal and facial fillers, radiofrequency treatment, high intensity focused ultrasound etc.